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New Strain of COVID-19 Coming to Campus

by: James Mainier

Photo Courtesy of Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

The Pitt Greensburg community, as well as other local and national communities, are dealing with a new strain of COVID-19. The original Omicron variant is now gone and the new subvariants existing are called BA.5 and BA.4.

Nurse Pamela Freger, the Director of the Health Center at University of Pitt Greensburg said, “BA.5 is more dominant and has accounted for approximately 90% of the most recent COVID cases. New variants could pop up over the winter.”

According to Freger, “Experts say that, ‘to focus too much on any one variant is missing the point’ – that the virus will continue to mutate and possibly evade prior immunities and vaccinations.” Furthermore, we should focus on particular mutations and go to watch hotspots.

What do students do about this?  There is a high probability that they may need to wear masks again on campus. That is one of the first things students can do. But this generally depends on community levels, which are being monitored by the CDC.  When there is a low to moderate community level, students do not need masks. When there is a high community level, masks are required.  Westmoreland County has been at a medium range, so students are not required to wear masks at this time. The county’s level is contingent upon Covid hospitalizations and deaths in the area(s).

The second thing a responsible student can do is vaccinate. The seriousness and response to the virus depends largely on the individual person.  According to many health officials it is the general consensus  that being vaccinated is extremely important.  The bivalent vaccine does offer protection against the omicron variants. The vaccines will change as the virus changes.

It is good to follow some tips from Nurse Pam Freger to stay healthy:

  1. Vaccinate.
  2. Wear a mask if you have Covid or any Covid-like symptoms.
  3. Wash your hands frequently.
  4. Get tested if you have symptoms.
  5. Stay home if you are sick so you don’t pass it to others.
  6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Following these tips and advice will give you the protection you need to stay safe on campus.

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